“Mmhm?” Garzur cracked one eye open and glanced at the tiny bosmer standing on the platform next to him with two steaming mugs in her hands.
“Brought you something before you freeze to death,” Rin passed one of the mugs to him. “What are you doing up here?”
“Sitting. Thinking. Breathing. What’s in there?” The orc smelled the drink feeling the mix of herbal and spicy aromas.
“Tea.” Rin laughed. “Don’t make this face, if I wanted to poison you, I would’ve done it long ago and with something much less conspicuous than an unfamiliar beverage, don’t you think?”
She scooted closer, sitting down next to him and dangling her legs over the edge of the platform.
“Coin for your thoughts?”
Garzur shrugged. “All the same. It feels weird, surreal. Don’t get me wrong, it was a right decision, it was my decision and I enjoy this,” he paused looking for words, “newly acquired mortality. It just feels weird.”
Silence fell again, interrupted only by occasional chirruping of crickets. Garzur thought back to the events of last several months that brought him here – not an un-living anymore, sitting on the platform in the branches of a huge graht oak overlooking Hearthwood with a tiny insufferably stubborn wood elf next to him. He thought of several months in Wrothgar, of the small clan of descendants of his original family who, to his endless surprise, accepted him as one of their own, of how Rin insisted on taking him to Valenwood to meet her family. After she told him a little about them he thought he was more or less ready, but…
“Uncle Ryn said auntie is bringing her orc friend, and the books Mama reads us say orcs are scary” – three pairs of curious golden-green eyes stared at him, waiting. “Are you scary too?”
Garzur turned to Rin, “what am I supposed to do?” question evident in his eyes. “Growl at them, maybe?” provided the shortie elf trying not to laugh. And he did. Golden-green eyes grew huge and for a second he was sure he ruined everything but then… Two tiny bosmer girls squealed in excitement and hung on him nearly tackling him on the ground. “Not scary! Not scary!” Helplessly he turned to look at Rin only to notice her crying from laughter. “Can’t trick the kids!” she singsonged.
“That was a dirty move.”
“Letting your nieces jump me. How was I supposed to know how to react? It’s not like I had a big experience dealing with children for … ever”
Rin giggled. “You did fine!”
“Well, calling me being a living tree for climbing “fine” is a bit of a stretch, but…” he sighed. “I suppose I’ll have to deal with young ones much more often than I’m used to when I stay with the clan now.”
“At least you already know how to play hide-and-seek.” Rin winked at him.
“That was a long way from there to here,” Garzur smirked. “What I would never understand is why you were never afraid.”
“You heard the girls. Not scary.”
“Well, you never exactly tried to be really scary and never looked at me like I was a snack, so, you know,” she wriggled her fingers, “I figured you aren’t a threat.”
“I tried to avoid spicy food.”
“You know, you got more cheeky? Must be mortality side-effect.”
Garzur laughed wholeheartedly. “Learning from the best.”
Rin bumped him with her shoulder laughing now too.
“I’ve never thought it would come to this, you know. I’ve pretty much got used to a thought that I’m always going to be an exile, alone, on my own. But then I got you and Alastair – and then my life back, and then in a blink of an eye I got a family…”
“Two.” Little bosmer shrugged. “They all like you, you know.” She waved her hand in the direction of Woodhearth. “You said Alastair is like a brother to you, well same goes for you in my opinion. You are like a brother to me – gruffy, grumpy and uncharacteristically green, but that doesn’t change a thing. And the thing with wood elves is – get one, and you get all others for good measure. So, my friend,” she added with a broad smile, “you got yourself one hell of a bundle of relatives.”